Wembley or not, the Wanderers are back and have all to play for in the league. An Everton loss on Saturday would see the Wanderers do well to pick up a point or three to get closer in Everton in hopes of regaining 7th place in the table. Arsenal needed the win here and from the off looked to fire on all cylinders in order to close the gap with Manchester United.
Whereas the Reebok used to be a fortress against Arsenal under Sam Allardyce, the Gunners have done well at our relatively small ground as of late. On their last four visits to the stadium, Arsenal have won all four times and while their results this year seem to be all doom and gloom, they are undefeated in their last 16 league matches. The last Arsenal loss in the league came to Manchester United on December 13.
Much of the first half was end to end stuff with neither team taking the most of the initiative. Shots from Fabregas, Nasri, Matty Taylor, and Chungy all came close before the breakthrough. For the second time in the half, Daniel Sturridge played a brilliant ball into the center for Chungy. The Korean got a hold of it but the shot was (quite brilliantly) saved by Szczesny from point-blank range and out for a corner. The ball played in was headed by Cahill and though it looked like it had gone in, it was cleared off the line. Luckily, the brilliant loan signing, Danny Sturridge was there to head in. That was Sturrdige’s 7th goal in 9 games and 5th in 5 at the Reebok. One-nil to the Wanderers!
Just 29 seconds into the second half, Sturridge is brought down for an admittedly soft penalty. Kevin Davies stood over the ball but fired it into the center of the goal, Szczesny making another easy save. What could have been 2-0 to Bolton quickly became 1-1 as Arsenal equalized at the other end through Robin van Persie. A quick shot from the forward in tight space at the top of the box went low and past Jaaskelainen. 1-1.
You’ve got to have faith. What a game from the Wanderers. In the 89th minute, Elmander flicked the ball onto himself and ran into the box. The one-on-one shot was saved by Szczesny again but out for a corner. The ball played in undid the Arsenal defense again as the late substitute Tamir Cohen put in a powerful header at the near post leaving the goalkeeper with no chance. The Israeli took off his jersey to celebrate, revealing the powerful image of his father, Avi Cohen, who died earlier in the season. Emotions running high and with every member of the team around him to celebrate, Cohen and the Wanderers reveled in a well deserved win.
Bolton have snapped Arsenal’s unbeaten run and win streak at the Reebok. The Whites are now just one point behind Everton and six behind Liverpool with a game in hand. The boys went out there, gave it there all, and made us proud. What a game. What a day.